Below The Surface is my new favourite website and if you’re even vaguely interested in urban history you too will love this fascinating interactive catalogue of over 700,000 artefacts dredged from the river Amstel.
It represents finds from an archaeological dig lasting from 2003 to 2012 as the North/South metro line was constructed for the city of Amsterdam.
Out of the silty depths of the Amstel a multitude of commonplace items including arrowheads, pots, shoes, coins, keys, ID cards and mobile phones have emerged. Each item is catalogued by year, material, the trench in which it was found and physical dimensions or descriptions.
It is possible to scroll through these artefacts by year and – for the purposes of allowing the viewer to experience history in a creative and interactive manner – to curate your own collection.
Some items make you stop and wonder about lives changed by their loss: a roll of undeveloped photographic film; a set of false teeth; a gold ring with a sapphire stone; a toy car. A satisfying slice of the history of humanity from prehistoric times to modern, told through the everyday items we buy, make, wear, share, use, lose and discard.